Youth Development


Young people are showing up and speaking out on so many issues facing their communities -- from displacement to environmental justice to systemic violence and more. They are, quite literally, the future of the creative placemaking field. As adults, we must support the creative work of youth, cede power where possible, and uplift their visions for the future.

In July 2020, ArtPlace America partnered with Creative Generation to lead a research initiative focused on arts, culture, and youth development. Building on the incredible depth and breadth of evidence that exists in the fields of arts education and creative youth development, this work explored the intersections of creative youth development, creative placemaking, and community development through community based, youth- and practitioner-led methods. Much is known about the critical value of the arts for young people; the prospect of layering in a place-based lens, however, and thereby building a broader understanding of the way the next generation can transform communities through their creative endeavors, inspired further inquiry.

Creative Generation was founded in April 2019 as a research initiative and has grown through its work in the United States and around the world. Through pioneering research in the arts and cultural education field – and the relentless assertion that young creatives can change the world by catalyzing creative local solutions to global challenges – the organization has supported projects from San Diego to South Sudan, led by myriad stakeholders including artists, educators, community activists, and youth.  Creative Generation will continue to curate a suite of tools, resources, and responses to this research in 2021 and beyond. Visit the Creative Youth & Community Development resource center to learn more. 

Field Scan

Throughout 2020, a group of young creative people, their adult allies, and a team of researchers sought to answer the question, "What impact do creative youth have on communities?" Combining knowledge from a 15-person advisory committee, the extant literature in the fields of community development and youth development, and deep-dives into nine selected projects as case stories – each comprised of interviews, narratives, and artistic works – the resulting field scan presents three sets of findings: community benefits articulated in the words of young creatives, strategies for partnering to expand the reach of youth-led creative placemaking projects, and new ways of defining success.

The field scan concluded that unabashedly, young creatives believe their projects benefit both people and places and promote more just and thriving communities. Specifically, youth leading creative projects in their communities see a future where:

  • Youth increase creativity and cultivate greater agency in themselves and others
  • Communities (people and places) are more sustainable and responsive
  • Youth-serving organizations honor personal identity and build collective belonging
  • Places and their populations are healthier, safer, and better able to foster wellbeing
  • Youth and adults catalyze intergenerational cultural continuity

Download the full report, Centering Creative Youth in Community Development: A Creative Placemaking Field Scan, to learn more. For additional resources produced as part of this research effort, be sure to visit the Creative Youth & Community Development website. Additional publications include:

Working Group

ArtPlace America and Creative Generation convened an advisory committee to help guide the research, translation of findings, and communications to stakeholders. Representing numerous stakeholder groups in the field of arts and culture, education, youth development, and community development, the committee included:


Mohammed Al Garawi, Alchemy
Deborah Bicknell, Youth Consultant for Peace & Reconciliation
Mary Bordeaux, First People's Fund
Sarah Calderon, ArtPlace America
Samantha Francois, Tulane University
Dreama Gentry, Partners for Education at Berea College
Ashraf Hasham, Creative Advantage, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture
James Horton, Carnegie Hall
Alberto Mejia, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture
Muntaha Mohamed, Youth & Community Engagement
Rachael Osgood, University of Edinburgh
Dennie Palmer Wolf, WolfBrown
Jess Peña, Fairbanks Arts Alliance 
Imani Scruggs, 4H at OSU Extension Cuyahoga County
Laenne Thompson, Youth Development & Out-of-School-Time Quality Improvement System Strategy Consultant

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Case Studies

The Creative Generation team developed a youth-led, community-based research process to lift up place-based, youth-led creative projects that tackle complex global challenges on a local scale. From over 100 nominated projects, nine partners were selected to work collaboratively with Creative Generation to tell their stories. Utilizing the case research method, Creative Generation first conducted in-depth interviews and then worked with youth and adult pairs associated with each project to research and document the origins, practices, outcomes, and impacts of their work. Youth created written narratives describing impact and artistic works to illustrate their perspectives. Creative Generation and the nine teams also worked with The Loop Lab, a nonprofit social enterprise specializing in media arts internships and digital storytelling, to produce a series of short explainer videos about each project utilizing the voices, data, and stories of the youth/adult pairs.

Visit the Case Stories section of Creative Generation's Creative Youth & Community Development project site, or click through the links below to be taken to each multi-media case story. 

1Hood Media's Artivist Academy
Treble NLS & Farooq Al Said
Pittsburgh, PA

Arts Amplify Youth
Samantha Marciel & Dairrick Khalil Hodges
National City, CA

Cheyenne River Youth Project's Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts and Culture Institute
Juell Twite & Jerica Widow
Eagle Butte, SD

Dancing Grounds' Dance for Social Change
Akilah Toney & Jessica Eugene
New Orleans, LA

Free Street Theatre's Youth Ensemble
Aminata Harley & Katrina Dion
Chicago, IL

Juxtaposition Arts' Tactical Lab
Justice Jones & Adrienne Doyle
Minneapolis, MN

MyCincinnati's Apprentice Program
Aleesia Black & Coltan Foster
Cincinnati, OH

Performing Statistics' Youth Ambassador Squad
Sidney Evans & Trey Hartt
Richmond, VA

SEEDS’ Border Youth Dialogue
Jose García & Cesar Lopez
Nogales, AZ


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